Expulsion of the Money-Changers

Giotto di Bondone, Expulsion of the Money Changers, 1304–1306. Fresco, Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, Padua, Italy.

Jesus, holding his right arm up with a clenched fist ready to strike a departing money changer is the focus of this detail of the fresco, Expulsion of the Money Changers, painted by Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337), or Giotto, for the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel in Padua, Italy. Historically, the Torah commanded the Jews to visit the temple on three annual holidays, at which time they were expected to make an animal sacrifice and make a half-shekel tribute. It was customary for merchants to position themselves outside the temple to change foreign currency and to sell souvenirs and animals for sacrifice. Giotto, an early (or proto-) Renaissance painter, painted this fresco, and others, with a more symbolic than realistic style. Notice the similar facial expressions on the money changers, who are being chased away, and the locals who are bystanders. Notice also the farm animals, which were probably being sold for sacrifices. They are shown exiting the image on both sides of the fresco, providing a harbinger of the fleeing money changers.

Giotto di Bondone, Expulsion of the Money-Changers. Fresco, 1304–1306.

The ritual killing and offering of animals to deities, often on an altar and intended as good for the gods.

something that foreshadows a future event

Service providers in the Jerusalem Temple who converted Greek and Roman money into Jewish currency for Jews visiting for Holy Days.

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